Carnage U.S.A. #5 (of 5)
Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Clayton Crain
So here’s the recap: Carnage takes over a small town in Colorado. Spider-Man and a group of Avengers (Captain America, Hawkeye, Wolverine, and Thing) go there to stop him. Unbeknownst to them, the Carnage symbiote ate a ton of cows at a meat-packing plant and expanded exponentially, allowing its host, serial killer Cletus Kasady, to control the town’s occupants like puppets. This also allows the Carnage symbiote to possess Cap, Hawkeye, Wolverine, and Thing in the same manner.
Spider-Man narrowly escapes, finding the town’s survivors in a compound/private zoo owned by the now-dead owner of the meat packing plant. The government sends in the cybernetic symbiote Scorn (see last year’s Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain mini-series Carnage] and a spec ops team augmented by the four symbiotes that once composed the symbiote Hybrid, and Cap breaks free of Carnage’s control long enough to call in the newest Secret Avenger, Venom. Scorn manages to trap Carnage (and Venom) in some sort of sonic machine that scares away their symbiotes.
That brings us to this week’s final issue of Carnage U.S.A., which opens with Cletus Kasady (complete with cybernetic legs) preparing to kill double-amputee Venom host Flash Thompson. Fortunately for Thompson, Kasady’s legs were partially powered by the Carnage symbiote and the machine fries their circuits in short order. The result is (and I’m making an assumption here) the first fight to the death between double amputees in a comic not published by Avatar Press. This fight gets nasty pretty quick–I’m talking blades impaling arms, biting, and meathooks to the rib cage. It’s exactly what you’d expect to see in a book starring Carnage.
Meanwhile, the Venom and Carnage symbiotes have gone rogue. Remember that private zoo I mentioned earlier? Yeah, you can see where this is going: Avengers vs. Animal Kingdom.
For what it’s worth, Carnage U.S.A. (and last year’s Carnage) have been the best story involving Cletus Kasady I’ve ever read. Wells has successfully revamped a character that, for many people, was run into the ground during the ’90s in a lot of cheesy, over-the-top stories. In all fairness, though, comics were still fairly PC at the time, with the darkest the Spider-Man books had gone probably being Gwen Stacy’s death, Harry Osborn’s drug addiction, and “Kraven’s Last Hunt.”
This story is as fun as it is dark, and Crain’s art, though it doesn’t always have the most detailed backgrounds, compliments it perfectly. I think I’ll pretend “Maximum Carnage” never happened in favor of this.